Chelsea have sacked manager Jose Mourinho with the reigning champions sitting one point above the relegation zone in the Premier League, the club have confirmed.
Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that owner Roman Abramovich was losing patience with Mourinho with Chelsea having lost nine of their opening 16 league matches.
Furthermore, there have been reports of a dressing room revolt against the Portuguese, who led the Blues to the Premier League title only seventh months ago.
The 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Monday night was the final straw for the hierarchy at Stamford Bridge, who reportedly met on Wednesday to discuss the 52-year-old’s future.
Former Holland boss Guus Hiddink – who was named interim manager following the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2009 – is reportedly set to return to Stamford Bridge as caretaker manager.
The club confirmed Mourinho’s departure on Thursday afternoon, releasing the following statement on their official website:
“Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho have today parted company by mutual consent.
All at Chelsea thank Jose for his immense contribution since he returned as manager in the summer of 2013.
His three league titles, FA Cup, Community Shield and three League Cup wins over two spells make him the most successful manager in our 110-year history. But both Jose and the board agreed results have not been good enough this season and believe it is in the best interests of both parties to go our separate ways.
The club wishes to make clear Jose leaves us on good terms and will always remain a much-loved, respected and significant figure at Chelsea. His legacy at Stamford Bridge and in England has long been guaranteed and he will always be warmly welcomed back to Stamford Bridge.
The club’s focus is now on ensuring our talented squad reaches its potential.
There will be no further comment until a new appointment is made.”
Following the loss at the King Power Stadium, Mourinho claimed he felt betrayed by his players, which is understood to have been fueled by a suspicion that one of his squad leaked his team to Porto ahead of the Champions League clash with his former side.
It is possible Chelsea’s hand was forced by the fact Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola – who Abramovich is known to be a big fan of – is expected to announce he will leave the German champions at the end of the season.